The Names Projects:
Onomap and PublicProfiler / WorldNames
Pablo Mateos, Alex Singleton, Maurizio Gibin, Muhammad Adnan, Jakob Petersen, Paul Longley
University College London


This talk will describe ongoing work which examines the ethnic, linguistic, and geographic origins of names and their contemporary spatial distributions at very fine scales. This will cover Onomap and PublicProfiler/WorldNames.

Onomap is an innovative methodology developed at UCL to research the ontology of ethnicity based on the origin of surnames and forenames. It assigns an individual’s name to one of 185 Cultural Ethnic and Linguistic groups, using probabilistic statistics. We argue that the use of names better reflects the complex dimensions of ethnicity and can be adapted to the characteristics of each study. As such, it presents a better way of managing the effect of some of the problems associated with self-assigned ethnicity, such as the volatility of the ontologies and categories of ethnicity, and lack of availability and comparability across datasets

The PublicProfiler/WorldNames project extends the success of the GB Surname Profiler (now located at Using individual level names data extracted from global telephone directories and other sources from over 30 countries, it comprises the world’s largest database of the geographic location of names. We will present a prototype website which will be used to display the spatial concentration of names throughout the world providing descriptive statistics which bring this geographic information to life.

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